On any given night, on a quiet stretch of road on the east side of Belleville, Illinois, the expansive parking lot at Cutter's slowly begins to fill up with motorcycles, work vans, beaters — this enormous neighborhood bar takes all comers, but it's primarily a blue-collar kind of watering hole. Service here is expedient and no-nonsense. In fact, to order a burger, a pizza or a plate of wings (at scandalously low prices), you must head to the back room and put in a ticket yourself — they'll call your number over a loud speaker when it's ready. Cutter's is almost like three bars rolled into one — the back room is dark and hazy-aired, the rail for regulars who're spending the better part of their afternoon parked on a stool. The main dining room, with its black-and-white checked floor, is almost like a family restaurant, and the patio — which is absolutely huge — is an outdoor oasis in the middle of the urban sprawl. While there were plenty of fully sleeved biker dudes there on a recent evening, this is the kind of place where everyone watches each other's backs, and that's what neighborhood bars are all about.
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